Pomo Picks

Top Things to Do in Portland This Week: Sept 2–8

May we offer you a women-led film festival, some outdoor laughs, or a drag paint-and-brunch in these trying times?

By Conner Reed September 2, 2021

Drag queen/art teacher Syra St. James, cohost of the all-new brunch painting party, which kicks off at Hotel Zags this weekend

The fall air is creeping its way into our skies. August sipped away like a bottle of wine—speaking of which. Still, it's technically summer, and by god, it's a holiday weekend. Looking for some laughs? Some movies? A stage parody of the 1989 film Road House? Us too. We've got you covered—here's what we have our eyes on this week.


Lot Laughs: Andrew Sleighter

5 p.m. Sun, Sept 5, Helium Comedy Club, $15

Helium Comedy Club's two-week outdoor stand-up series continues with a show from Last Comic Standing alum Andrew Sleighter, who also recently appeared at Kickstand's Comedy in the Park series—a fixture of this column. Check out a sample from that set below:


Personal Shopper

7 p.m. Thu–Fri, Sept 2–3, Clinton Street Theater, $7–10 suggested, $8 advance

This truly one-of-a-kind supernatural drama, by New French Extreme director Olivier Assayas, features—we'll say it—Kristen Stewart's finest performance. She mourns her brother, shops for her model boss, texts what might be a ghost, and holds us rapt as the film throws a dizzying number of curveballs at the audience. Our advice: go in blind.

POW Film Fest

Various times and prices, Sept 3–6, Clinton Street Theater & Hollywood Theatre

The women and nonbinary-focused film fest will return for is 14th iteration this weekend, showcasing four feature films and five short film programs across its four days. Films will be shown at the Hollywood and Clinton Street theaters, and include buzzy Ethiopian documentary Faya Dayi and apocalyptic drama Everything in the End, directed by Oregon-raised filmmaker Mylissa Fitzsimmons.

Serial Mom

7 p.m. Sat, Sept 4, Hollywood Theatre, $8–10

This under-loved John Waters-goes-commercial black comedy from 1994 has always been one of its maker's proudest achievements. It's easy to see why: a stellar turn from Kathleen Turner, an incredible utilization of a leg of lamb, and some truly top-tier production design take this suburban satire, about a housewife pushed to the edge, to dizzying, hilarious, discomfiting heights.


BrandonLee Cierley

3 p.m. Sun, Sept 5, Alberta Street Pub, $10

The Tacoma-born new-jazz saxophonist (and former Portland Monthly playlist fixture) will hold down his own billing at the cozy Alberta Street Pub this weekend, with the support of a full band. It comes on the heels of his joyful single “Baachan” and the one-year anniversary of his debut album, Here Comes a New Challenger. 

Shannon and the Clams 

8 p.m. Sat, Sept 4, Crystal Ballroom, $20–30

The punky, soulful Oakland-based rockers, headlined by powerhouse vocalist Shannon Shaw (who also performs with queer-core group Hunx and His Punx), will hit the Crystal this weekend in support of their latest LP Year of the SpiderPitchfork called it "their most musically diverse and lyrically affecting album yet."

Special Events

Art in the Pearl Fine Arts and Crafts Festival

Sat–Mon, Sept 4–6, North Park Blocks, FREE

The annual Labor Day festival returns for its 25th year, filling the North Park Blocks with stalls, performances, and the wares of more than 100 artists. This year's festival is a masks-on affair, with no on-site food carts and a plethora of hand washing stations.

Drags @ Zags Brunch Painting Party

11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m. Sun, Sept 12, The Hotel Zags, $65

Local queens Syrah St. James and Feather Dusted will launch a new, weekly drag event at downtown's Hotel Zags this Sunday. Attendees will receive a full brunch, plus a painting setup, on-loan apron, take-home canvas, and all. St. James and Dusted will provide step-by-step painting instructions (and critiques) throughout, and yes, booze is available for purchase.


Road House: The Play

8 p.m. Fri–Sat, Sept 3–4, The Siren Theater, $20–25

In 2010, Portland comedian Shelley McLendon (artistic director of Old Town comedy venue Siren Theater) wrote a parody of the insane 1989 Patrick Swayze skull-crushing flick Road House. Ever since, it's become a sold-out Siren staple. Catch it this weekend or next—proof of vaccination required. 


8:30 p.m. Tue–Thu, Sept 7–9, Veterans Memorial Coliseum Pavilion, $10–35

This five-years-in-the-making jazz opera about the gentrification of Portland's Black neighborhoods was slated to premiere last April. On Tuesday, it finally sees the light, with music by local jazz composer Darrell Grant, a libretto by Oregon poet laureate Anis Mojgani, and performances from local heavyweights including Damien Geter, Marilyn Keller, and Ithica Tell. It is, all told, a pretty much can't-miss situation.


Visual Art

A Letter from Souls of the Dead

Noon–6 p.m. Thu–Fri, noon–4 p.m. Sat–Sun, July 10–Sept 4, PICA, FREE

The first solo exhibition by musician and visual artist Aki Onda, A Letter from Souls of the Dead marries sound, photography, found objects, and prints, to elicit séance and other forms of interspiritual communication.


11 a.m.–6 p.m. Thu–Sat and by appointment, Aug 25–Oct 9, 1010 NW Flanders St, FREE 

As a part of its Portland Monuments and Memorials Project, Converge 45 will host this two-month exhibition in a 5,000-square-foot Northwest Portland warehouse. Featuring work by more than 30 artists, it reckons with the meaning and importance of public monuments, featuring proposals and prototypes for new ones beside art that provokes questions about old ones. 

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